The de­ci­sion as to who teaches you to dive is far too im­por­tant to be left to chance.

Action Asia - - CONTENTS - SI­MON PRIDMORE,

Tak­ing an ac­tive role in se­lect­ing who teaches you means you are more likely to learn all the skills you need to be a safe and com­pe­tent diver.

STRANGE AS IT MAY SEEM, GIVEN THAT you are trust­ing them to teach you skills that might save your life one day, most peo­ple do not choose the per­son who ac­tu­ally teaches them to dive. In­stead, they go into the dive shop or scuba club clos­est to their home and an­nounce that they have de­cided they want to learn to dive. Or per­haps, on a whim, they make enquiries at the dive cen­tre in the ho­tel where they are stay­ing while on hol­i­day. It is the club, shop or dive cen­tre that then as­signs them an in­struc­tor. This is what com­monly hap­pens but it is not what SHOULD hap­pen. The de­ci­sion as to who teaches you to dive is far too im­por­tant to be left to chance. The dive op­er­a­tion and the train­ing agency they rep­re­sent (PADI, NAUI and BSAC be­ing the most com­mon) have some im­pact on the qual­ity of the div­ing course you get. But by far the most im­por­tant fac­tor is the per­son who ac­tu­ally teaches you. Their per­son­al­ity, abil­ity, ded­i­ca­tion and pro­fes­sion­al­ism have a cru­cial bear­ing on whether your course is the first step on the path to a life­time of div­ing, or a waste of time and money.

How to choose A good first step in choos­ing an in­struc­tor is to ask for rec­om­men­da­tions from divers you know. Be sen­si­ble, how­ever. Not all your friends will be com­pletely ob­jec­tive. Most peo­ple who learn to dive then be­lieve their in­struc­tor to be a god or god­dess of the sea. This is not al­ways the case. Next, talk to the rec­om­mended in­struc­tors di­rectly, ei­ther by phone or in per­son. In­ter­view them. Af­ter all, they may not recog­nise the fact, but they are ap­ply­ing for the job of teach­ing you to dive. Then find an op­por­tu­nity to watch them at work. Ask if you can at­tend a swim­ming pool ses­sion as an ob­server or pay to go out snorkelling on a boat trip when they are teach­ing. Do you find their per­son­al­ity and ap­proach sym­pa­thetic? Are they pro­fes­sional, at­ten­tive to de­tail, con­cerned enough with safety, able to man­age a group ef­fec­tively? What a re t he signs of a pro­fes­sional in­struc­tor? Here are five key things to look out for. If an in­struc­tor ticks th­ese boxes, you know you’ll be in good hands:

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